The kids either get low grades or wind up in an algebra-in-name-only sham.
Before the presidential race and the nationalization of the banking industry distracted from the fact that we weren’t supposed to be talking about rising state revenues in Kentucky, Gov. Steve Beshear was talking about raising cigarette taxes.
In Frankfort earlier this year, some lawmakers were talking about the evils of Mountain Dew. Might taxing that evil brew be part of Beshear’s next tax-raising scheme?
The Herald-Leader posted “Kentucky middle schools struggle to keep pace” today with a disappointing analysis of the recent CATS testing.
The title of the piece – assuming CATS scores were credible – is off target. Actually, the CATS shows the state’s high schools are doing notably worse than the middle schools. But, you have to read down 13 paragraphs before you learn that from this article.
The Herald-Leader claims the statewide CATS elementary school math score was 97. Actually, according to the statewide Kentucky Performance Report (available by clicking on the KPR Report link on this page), it was 96.9, rounded to the same level as the reported middle school score in the newspaper of 84.5. But, the true middle school score statewide was really 85.0, which is a larger rounding error.
Still, the really big problem concerns high schools. The high school math score was only 67.7 in that same Kentucky Performance Report (somehow the Herald-Leader reports it as 67.4), which certainly blows a hole in the Herald-Leader’s headline’s implication that middle schools have the major problems. If you trust CATS, middle school performance is far closer to the elementary school performance than the high schools are to the middle schools.
Of course, the credibility of all the CATS “stuff” starts to fall apart if you look at other recent test results from the federally operated National Assessment of Educational Progress. In the national assessment, Kentucky’s middle school performance isn’t much different from the elementary schools, and both do a whole lot worse than CATS shows.
For example, in 2007 Kentucky’s NAEP proficiency rates for math were 31 percent for our fourth graders, which was 8 points below the national average. The NAEP showed math proficiency of 27 percent for our eighth graders, however, which was 4 points behind the national average. The proficiency spread from grade four to grade eight was only 4 points.
Now, consider what the CATS showed. The CATS in 2007 reported math proficiency rates of 60 percent for fourth graders and 49 percent for our eighth graders, clearly a claim of much better performance for both school levels than NAEP showed with and a much larger proficiency rate spread of 11 points between elementary and middle schools.
Anyway, I wonder who at the Herald-Leader has an axe to grind against the middle schools?
And, why does the Herald-Leader trust CATS to tell us about our school problems?
As mentioned in our previous post about the Kentucky Department of Education’s “CATS Task Force,” the following call for input has been issued. It contains contact and mail address information for you to submit your comments and concerns about CATS to the task force.
Parents in particular can supply some important information that isn’t specifically listed below. If your child got CATS scores that differ greatly from his or her school grades or performance on other tests like the EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT tests, the task force needs to hear about this. We at the Bluegrass Institute would also appreciate hearing from you about these examples of questionable CATS scoring. My personal example, which occurred years ago under the old KIRIS assessment, involves our daughter’s outstanding writing performance versus the scores she got from the state assessment program. She won the PTA’s statewide writing contest as a ninth grader and had outstanding grades in English but only got an “Apprentice” score from the state’s writing assessment. Clearly, something wasn’t right, and it wasn’t with her grades, as her extremely high ACT score in English and her success in college later proved.
KDE Release Follows:
INPUT SOUGHT FOR ASSESSMENT/ACCOUNTABILITY TASK FORCE
News Advisory 08-077 – September 22, 2008
(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – The members of the Task Force on Assessment and Accountability have issued a call for input from teachers, administrators, parents, businesspeople, elected officials, education advocacy groups and others who are interested in the state’s public school testing and accountability system.
The task force is focusing on a number of areas, including:
• on-demand writing/writing portfolios
• arts & humanities and practical living/vocational studies
• minor changes to the assessment system, including national comparisons, alternate assessments and the Kentucky Core Content Tests
assessments of student learning
standards (narrowing of curriculum)
longitudinal testing models
individual student focus
analysis of Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS) technical programs
balance of student/school accountability
timeliness of results
Written comments on those areas (or others) are requested. Those may be sent to Lisa Gross, director of the Division of Communications, 6th Floor, 500 Mero St., Frankfort KY 40601; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; fax (502) 564-3049.
The task force is charged with reviewing the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) and providing a blueprint for the system’s progress in the future to ensure that the system meets the best interests of public school students. Members of the group include policymakers and experts in the field.
Education Commissioner Jon E. Draud asked statewide organizations, partner groups and leaders of the Kentucky Senate and House of Representatives to name members to the task force. The group will analyze individual components of CATS and determine the effectiveness of those in meeting the needs of students.
Great question this morning from former candidate for Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts Linda Greenwell about the federal government nationalizing trainwrecks:
“Wonder why they voted to force us to invest in these failing companies but forbid us to willfully invest in stable companies of our choice using our Social Security money?”
Thanks Linda. These hurry-up bills usually wind up with nasty surprises for taxpayers. Sure would be nice to see compromise run the other way just once.
A common refrain on editorial pages this past week has been that free-market “zealots” have been the losers in the federal interventions of AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and whoever is next.
That’s true, but certainly not because the free market has failed. I’m stunned and saddened that we have gone so far to show that, under certain circumstances, we are perfectly willing to abandon any pretense of capitalism.
Sen. Jim Bunning was right when he said “when I picked up my newspaper yesterday, I thought I woke up in France. But no, it turns out socialism is alive and well in America.”
Said the CJ:
“In a sense, we’re all Ford families around here, given the firm’s 6,000 local employees and its $300 million metropolitan region payroll. We have special reason to look favorably at a sensibly hedged bet on American automakers’ future.”
As much as I appreciate the irony in seeing yet another bailout referred to as a “sensibly hedged bet,” the unsettling part of this Orwellian verbiage is that it ignores the trainwreck we are setting up by combining our sudden disdain for all things laissez-faire with our long-term willful blindness to the growing crisis in unfunded employee benefits.
We shouldn’t have to remind most people that the labor costs tied up in domestic automobiles have wrecked Detroit’s competitiveness for a generation, but the CJ is hoping you didn’t get the memo:
“It’s true that Detroit has brought on many of its own problems. It was slow to move toward the kinds of vehicles that America needs, but that’s partly because consumers were slow to demand them. Now it faces higher materials costs and gasoline prices, an economic slowdown and a fierce credit crunch.”
Failing to build cars that run on corn is not what caused Detroit’s problems. It’s the loss of financial flexibility the firms bought themselves by promising retiree benefits they couldn’t afford to deliver and stay competitive in a global marketplace.
Bailing them out is just delaying the inevitable at taxpayer expense.